As a youngster growing up, former England international Amanda Coulson’s boxing career was almost over before it had even began.
Many boxing clubs in her native North East refused to let her train at their gyms, citing a lack of female coaches and facilities.
She eventually found a home at Hartlepool Catholic Boys Boxing Club - and was such a success that the club was forced to drop ‘Boys’ from its name.
Amanda went on to star in two World Championships, win four senior ABA titles and, in 2011, she became a Great Britain champion.
Since her retirement, Amanda has signed up as a mentor for ‘Sporting Champions’, a national initiative to get young people involved in sports in their local area.
On Sunday, she was at a Sheffield mosque as an ambassador of the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, a charity which allows athletes to mentor young people across the country.
Over 25 young Muslim girls took part in a boxing session with Amanda at the One Nation Centre, on Leyburn Road. One youngster was Kamila, aged 11, who has been attending boxing sessions at the Centre for a month.
“I really like to box... it’s my favourite thing to do,” she said.
“I was a bit nervous about meeting Amanda but it was very exciting.”
Amanda added: “Boxing is a male dominated sport so for a girl walking into a boxing club, it’s going to be a challenge.
“But it’s such a great sport. When I started, no one wanted to train me because I was a girl. But once I got in I was there every night, week after week, because I wanted to prove myself.”
Amanda talked the girls through basics, including the jab and footwork.
“The idea is to inspire young people in their local areas so they’ll want to carry on boxing,” she added.
“There’s no reason why young people - male or female, of whatever background or faith - can’t take part.
“This was my second visit to the One Nation Centre in the mosque.
“The idea is that I come in and inspire them, but coming here and seeing them get into the session has left me feeling inspired too.”
For more information on the Sporting Champion project, visit the website at www.sportingchampions.org.uk.